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The healthcare industry is one of a few major industries in North America where immigrants play a key role in higher-level positions. Specifically, there are thousands of medical doctors and nurses who immigrated from India. While these Indian workers offer invaluable services to the community, they also present a certain set of challenges to their employers (and/or potential employers).
Physicians who come from India are often viewed as a nuisance (from an employment perspective). Mainly due to the legal red-tape that is often associated with employees who are immigrants. However, thousands of healthcare providers immigrate to the West each year, and nearly all of them make the transition without any issues. The process can still be confusing though (for both parties), which is why we’ve outlined the general immigration options below.
Immigration Options for Foreign Healthcare Providers
Before any hiring decisions are made, or any formalities proceed, both the employer and the potential employee need to understand the different options available to them (in regards to immigrating to the US).
- One of the most popular immigration options is the J-1 visa. This type of visa is used by full-time students (i.e. medical school students). They’re also used by foreign medical students who’ve completed their basic education and want to do their residency in the USA.
- For Indian doctors (or accomplished nurses) who’ve already completed their education, they might be able to receive an O1, TN, or E2 visa. These types of visas are temporary (just like J-1 visas).
- Another popular immigration method is obtaining a green card. This option provides the employee with permanent residency, enabling them to work full-time. This option is only possible if the worker is sponsored by the employer.
Benefits of Hiring Immigrant Medical Care Providers
Why would a hospital or medical practice want to hire an immigrant? The answer to this question is simple: there’s a lot of medical talent in other countries (especially India and surrounding countries). Why wouldn’t you want to expand your talent pool? Helping an immigrant medical care provider achieve permanent residency can also help with employee retention (in the long run).
The cost of hiring an immigrant is one of the biggest barriers of entry for most immigrant applicants. Companies simply don’t want to spend thousands of dollars to hire one employee.
However, the legal firms that handle immigration cases like these typically offer various types of payment options (and nearly always charge a flat rate as opposed to an hourly rate). This means that the cost of hiring an immigrant isn’t as high as one would think.
Tips for Adjusting to Healthcare in the US
Once an employee comes to the US to begin their work/residency, they will probably need some time to adjust. One of the best ways to help them during this process is by offering support, providing them with any necessary information, etc.
One of the primary concerns many immigrants have centers around health services for Indians in the USA. Employers should aim to be able to properly (and efficiently) educate their employees regarding health insurance options, medical plans, etc. Information should be readily available for all employees (but particularly for immigrant workers).
Cultural issues typically work themselves out, however cultural issues in the workplace sometimes need to be addressed. Workplace norms vary from country to country, so any new employees (who are immigrants) should be educated in regards to proper workplace standards.
Tips for Candidates
If you’re reading this article and hope to start the job search process soon, use the tips listed below to help give you an edge. The job search process can be difficult, but once you find a company willing to invest in you, any negatives are far outweighed by the positives!
You should start looking for a job/open position in your last year of medical training. The competition in the medical field is intense (especially in the USA), which means that you need to start as early as possible.
Once you’re further along in the employment search/application process, consider hiring a law firm that specializes in immigration law. Lawyers who practice immigration law (and deal with the medical industry) will also have insight into industry hiring trends.
Don’t accept the first job you get offered. Remember that you will need to stay with this employer for the length of your visa/green card, so don’t choose an employer that you feel isn’t a good fit.